Dakar: Stage winner Price ‘you can’t put a cow in the road book!’

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Red Bull KTM rider Toby Price may have laid down a big marker on yesterday’s second stage of the 2017 Dakar Rally by taking the stage win in style and the overall lead by some three minutes – but the defending champion says that doesn’t mean that it was an easy day!

Always scheduled to be tricky thanks to a dusty route that promised poor visibility in the dry or sticky mud in the wet, Price says that it was instead wild animals along the route that provided the biggest challenge for the hard-pushing riders on the 275km timed section.

“Today was a whole different day. There was a lot of speed; a lot of fast roads and it was really dusty. We also had to deal with a lot of animals. It wasn’t a tricky day in navigation but you can’t put a cow in the road book and it becomes difficult when they are popping out at you. But it’s good to get to the finish with this heat.”

His views were echoed by British teammate Sam Sunderland, who finished the day in fourth, four minutes behind Price.

“There were a lot of dangerous areas and a lot of mud holes from the rain and there were also animals on the track. That plays with your confidence and I had a few close calls. But it’s okay. I’m happy I’m here and the bike is good and I am top five again. I want to keep on like this the first week and try to stay consistent. I think that’s the key.”

It was an even riskier day for Monster Energy Honda rider Joan Barreda, who dropped back in the final kilometres of the stage after a near miss with a cow, to eventually finish the day in eighth, six minutes off Price in the overall classification.

“I’m happy to have finished the stage well. In the first stretch there were plenty of dangers which didn’t make me feel confident at such high speeds. From then on we decided not to take any chances. Yes, it’s true that I have dropped a couple of minutes, but I’m certain that we can recuperate them over the coming days as the role of navigation becomes a key factor in the stages.”

Simon Patterson

By Simon Patterson

MotoGP and road racing reporter, photographer, videographer